Sunday, April 30, 2006

Simple Pleasures

Images of cool breezes, rustling leaves and fragrant flowers may come to mind when you think of a picnic.


Being on a picnic is always a pleasant state of mind. Take a break from your daily chores today, put together a picnic and share it with your friends and family.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Cooking With Kids

Preparing healthy snacks with your children teaches them an important life skill -healthy eating habits.


Flour tortillas are a versatile food, that can be made into tacos, burritos and sometimes quesadillas. And, they are low in calories and carbohydrates.

This week, when your kids come home from school, and are hungry for a snack, have a selection of grated cheeses, taco sauces and flour tortillas available.

Help them prepare a quesadilla they can cook in the microwave. You'll only have to show them once and they'll get they hang of it.

This healthy snack will satify their hunger until dinner.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Apples for the Teacher

A slice of apple for every teacher in school.


Bake up this Apple Butter Cake, take it to school, and celebrate the end of the week.

Mix the following into a dough:

1 - Package yellow cake mix
1 - Stick butter
1 - Egg

Press into a lightly greased 9 x 13 -inch pan.

Beat for three minutes:

1 - 8 oz Package cream cheese
2 - Eggs
3/4 box powdered sugar

Pour over dough then bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool then cover with apple pie filling, cut into squares.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Math, Charts and Graphs

To illustrate the use of mathematical graphs record the growth of the herb seeds, in the Mother's Day pots, for three weeks on a chart.


Design a chart with the following data:


At the end of three weeks convert this data into a graph. You might also discuss which herbs grew faster and why.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Growing plants in the classroom always provides opportunities to teach science. Once your potted seeds start to grow and have leaves, you can perform this easy science experiment to illustrate that plants move just like people and animals.


In the morning turn all the pots, so the leaves are facing the inside of the classroom, away from the sunlight.

At the end of the day, have your students, check to see if the leaves moved. They will probably be facing the windows and the sunshine.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

An Herb Garden for Mother

Using inexpensive materials your students can make an herb garden for Mother's Day.


What You'll Need:

8 " terra-cotta flower pots
Assortment of herbs seeds such as: parsley, sage rosemary and ... whatever is available in your area.
pop sicle sticks
gold craft paint
black, fine line permanent markers
assorted colors of ribbon (enough for a 15" piece for each planter)

1. Have students paint pots with gold paint, let dry.
2. With permanent markers, have students print Mother's Day, the day and year on the side of the pot.
3. After students fill their pots with soil give them three seeds, of their choice, to plant (about a 1/2-inch deep).
4. Write the names of the herbs on the board. Pass out popsicle sticks. Have students make a plant marker for their gardens.
5. Cut a 15" length of ribbon. Help students secure it around the top edge, with a bow.
6. Place pots in a sunny spot, water and wait for the seeds to sprout.

If students begin these herb gardens soon, they should have a nice gift by Mother's Day.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Reading , A Path To Writing

"Reading and writing are language arts that are interelated and mutually supportive of one another. . ." Becoming a Nation of Readers, 1985

Creating a garden,is a challenge for Lydia Grace when she comes to live in the big city. A good book to foster the connection between reading and writing is, The Gardener, by David Small. Written as a series of letters, this book lends itself towards lessons introducing letter writing.

Mother's Day is just three weeks away. To extend today's reading aloud session have students write letters to their mothers or grandmothers. These letters can accompany their Mother's Day gifts.

I'll have a cute and inexpensive planter your students can make mom, for Mother's Day, tomorrow.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Simple Pleasures

"The kiss of sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth-
One is nearer God's heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth."
- Dorothy Gurney


Make this Sunday afternoon a pleasant retreat from the hectic pace of school. Shop for flowers then work in your garden.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Earth Day, Cooking With Kids


Energy Muffins

Celebrate Earth day by taking a hike with your kids. Take along these healthy muffins, your kids can help you make, for an energy snack along the way. Makes 12 to 15 muffins

Before you head out the door, visit this link,, read about the history of Earth Day and find activites for your classroom.


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
a pinch of cloves
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup of chopped nuts of your choice (optional)
1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly grease a muffin tin with butter, dust with sugar.
3. In a large bowl, sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and spices together.
4. In a smaller bowl whisk eggs, then add oil.
5. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, blend well but do not over mix.
6. Gently fold in carrots, coconut, raisins, nuts and pineapple until blended.

Drop dollops of batter into the prepared muffin tin. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool, then place in ziplock bags.

Pack up your backpack with sunscreen, bottles of water and your Energy Muffins and have great hike!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Goodies for Teachers

What's a teacher's best friend?



It's Friday! When I taught school, each grade level took turns providing goodies for the staff. We usually had a theme, like a Mexican Fiesta or a spring salad bar. Many times it was just pot luck.

Here's a recipe for Chocolate Rocky Road Candy. It will complement any buffet in the teacher's lounge

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1/3 cup cashews
2 cups mini pretzels
1/2 bag colored miniature marshmallows

Melt chocolate slowly in a double boiler. Blend remaining ingredients into melted chocolate, then pour onto waxed paper. Roll into a log. Chill two hours, then slice into 1/2-inch pieces.

Arrange on a platter


Thursday, April 20, 2006


Here is the final list of phonograms. Remember, most word families are usually rhymes and only require a beginning consonant sound, or consonant blend. For instance: "ill", add p and you have pill, or add sk and you will have skill. Really, word family endings are phonograms.

Teaching word families strikes a balance between whole to part and part to whole phonics instruction. As children encounter common root words, prefixes, and suffixes again and again they begin to recognize these alphabet combinations instantly and no longer need to sound out each letter.

To get started teaching word families take a large piece of poster board. Create a chart by listing the word endings below down the left side of the poster board.

Beginning with "ear" have students think of all the words they know that end in "ear", For example: near fear, clear. Next, list these new words next to the phonogram ending. Repeat this exercise for each word family.

-ear -ice
-eat -ick
-ed -id
-ee -ide
-eed -ies
-eek -ig
-eep -ight
-ett -ile
-ell -ill
-end -ime
-ent -in
-ess -ine
-est -ing
-et -ink
-ew -int

Source: Reading Instruction that Works - Michael Pressley 1998

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dragon food

Ask children what they imagine dragons eat. They'll probably say bugs, mice or worms. Write their ideas on the board. Then tell them you're going serve them some dragon food. It'll be fun to see their reactions.


Here's a recipe for dragon food that I'm sure your children will eat.

What you'll Need:

1 5.9 OZ package chocolate instant pudding, prepare according to package directions
2 cups Oreo@ cookies, crushed
2/3 cup Chocolate Flavor Nestle Nesquik™ Syrup
1 8 OZ container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
1 12 OZ package gummy worms
8 OZ plastic cups (as many as you need)

1. Combine cookie crumbs and Nesquik™ in a bowl - save a 1/4 cup.

2. In disposable cups ( you will have to distribute this as evenly as you can among the cups) make layers of: the pudding and the whipped topping.

3. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture, then top each cup with a gummy worm.

Have Fun!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Craft Time

I hope your kids enjoyed Jack Prelutsky's poems about dragons. To extend this reading aloud lesson, here's a cute dragon your kids can make out of an egg carton.


What you'll need to make two egg carton dragons:

1- egg carton
1- 9" x 11" piece green felt
1- 9" x 11" piece red felt
4- wiggle eyes (found in craft stores)
1- bottle green craft paint
1- bottle craft glue

1. Cut the top of the egg carton off. Cut the crate (bottom) in two-lengthwise. Paint the egg carton, inside and out green, let dry.
2. From the green felt cut three 2"x 2" squares. Cut these in half diagonally. You will now have six triangles for the scales.
3. Glue these triangle/scales along the outside of the egg carton.
4. From the green felt, cut another piece of felt 1" x 5". Fold this piece in half and cut it diagonally, you'll have a long triangular piece. Glue this piece to the end of the egg carton for the dragon's tail.
5. From the red felt, cut a piece 1" x 2 1/2". Fold this piece in half and cut diagonally, you'll have a long triangular piece. Glue this piece on the opposite end for the dragon's tongue.
6. Above the tongue glue two wiggle eyes.

Display the kids' dragons along the windowsill or make a bulletin board especially for them.

Have fun!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Reading Aloud


Jack Prelusky's book, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, is a wonderful book of poems about dragons. This cute and funny book also provides endless possibilities for teachers to extend their reading aloud lessons.

Here's a sample of one of his poems:

I Have a Dozen Dragons

"I have a dozen dragons,
I bought them at the mall,
I keep them in my closet,
It's fortunate they're small.
Their horns are red and silver,
Their scales are green and gold,
All of them are beautiful,
And all of them are bold.. ."

Jack Prelutsky, 1993 Scholastic Books Inc., New York, NY

Read my blog tomorrow and I'll give the directions to make a cute dragon. Hint! You need an empty egg carton.

On Wednesday I'll have an activity on writing poetry.

Note: Those of you who regulary read by blog probably have noticed I've changed the day I give you a reading aloud idea. That's to help you schedule the follow up activities into your lesson plans for the week.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Simple Pleasure

"Be joyful. . . give thanks in all circumstances, for this god's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Thessalonians 5:16-18


As teachers, we sometimes become overwhelmed by the responsibilities of our profession. We often worry too much about grading papers, calling parents or making lesson plans. We forget to slow down, look around and give thanks to the wonderful lives we have, filled with children.

Today, forget about everyday nuisances and remember why you became a teacher.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sponge Cake Bunnies

This time of year soft, plush bunnies arrive on stores shelves for Easter baskets.


Here's a cute bunny kids can make, then eat to celebrate the Easter holiday.

What You'll Need:

1- box(12 pack)Hostess Twinkies@ (for the body)
1- 12 Oz can Pillsbury@ vanilla frosting
1- 14 Oz bag flaked coconut (for the bunnny fur)
1- 10.5 Oz bag miniature marshmallows (for the tail)
1- package pink Pez@ candy (for the nose)
1- bag red hots candy (for the eyes)
3 to 4 tablespoons of milk
1- 2 Oz bag pink Easter Grass
1- 6 Oz bag jelly beans

Place frosting in a bowl and add milk. Mix until well blended (frosting should be thin enough to spread easily on twinkies). Frost twinkies then sprinkle coconut over them. Pat coconut down to keep in place. On one end on the frosted twinkies place the marshmallow tails. On the opposite end, add the candies for the eyes and noses.
Makes 12

On a cake plate, covered with pink Easter grass, arrange bunnies. Sprinkle jelly beans around for more color.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Reading Aloud:

I bet your students are hopping up and down with excitement. Easter is just two days away!


Settle them down and read the Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams. An old favorite perfect for reading aloud this time of year. Kids love hearing this story - it touches their hearts.

Read my blog tomorrow, I'll have a recipe for cute and easy Sponge Cake Bunnies, kids can make.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

More Phonograms


Last Thursday I promised you more phonograms to teach word families. If you've forgotten what word families are, why you should teach them, or how to teach this reading strategy read my blog entry on April 13th.

Here's a new list of phonograms for your students.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Geography Bee

This time of year many school districts are getting ready for spelling bees. Students fortunate enough to qualify at the state level may go onto the national Spelling Bee held in Washington D.C..


The first Spelling Bee was held in Louisville, Kentucky in 1925. Organizers wanted to encourgage and reward good spellers and spelling habits. The term "spelling Bee" originated from the word word "bee" which describes a gathering of people around a mutual activity such as: sewing quilting, barn rasing or spelling.

Today, many teachers are putting a twist on the old "Bees" and developing - "Geography Bees".

Here's ten questions about U.S. geography you can add your next Geography Bee:

1. What state has the only diamond mine in the United States?

2. Where is the center of the contiguous United States?

3. What is the highest point in the United States?

4. What is the largest lake in the United states?

5. What U. S river is the shortest in the world?

6. What state has the longest coast line?

7. Which state borders only one other state?

8. What U. S. city is name for a game show?

9. What U. S,. city is know as the Earthquke City?

10. Where is the sunbelt?

Read my blog next week and I'll have the answers to these questions.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Math: Daily Math Facts

The basic building blocks of mathematics are addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division math facts.


In order for students to work with numbers in their everyday lives, they must know basic math facts. They must know instantly that 6 and 7 are 13. They need to be aware that counting in their heads or on their fingers takes too long.

Create math problems in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Write them on a transparency sheet or on the overhead projector. Every morning, after daily oral language have students do twenty daily math facts.

Children need to practice five problems, on each process daily, to achieve mastery.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Craft Time, Letter Frames

Many school districts perform annual academic assessments in the spring. Schedules are crazy and the kids can be restless. Teachers find they don't want begin a new teaching unit, just to be interrupted by testing again. Here's a cute and easy craft that will keep the kids busy for a while.


You will Need:
A picture of Each Student - you may already have them from school pictures, if not use a digital camera.
1-Tub, Foam Alphabet Letters - you can find these at teacher or craft stores
1-Ream, Assorted Colors, Construction Paper.

1. Let students select the color of construction paper they want to use.

2. Pass out pictures. Explain to your students that they will be glueing letters, that spell out their names, below, above, or beside their pictures.

3. Have students glue their picture in the center of the construction paper. They then need to cut away the construction paper, leaving about a two inch border. This border can be cut straight or wavy.

4. In groups of four, have students gather the letters that will spell out their names. At their desks have them glue the letters down around their framed picture.

Another nice touch, if you have them avaiable, have students glue a magnet to the back of their alphabet Frame. Then, mom can put it on the frig!

That's It!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Simple Pleasures

Sunday, a day to rest and reflect


"We find little in a book but what we put there. But in great books, the mind finds room to put many things." Joseph Joubert, Pensees

Teachers lead hectic, fast paced lives. Today, slow down and enjoy a good book.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Cooking With Kids

Here's a riddle for your students

What's better than a chocolate chip cookie?


A chocolate chip chip cookie pizza!

Reward your students for their good work with this yummy treat. Best of all, they can help you make it! If you are lucky enough to have a stove at school, your students can help you prepare the dough. If not, do this step at home.

What you'll Need:

1 - 12" to 14" inch circular pizza pan
2 - 18 OZ packages of Pillsbury refrigerated cookie dough@
2 - 8 OZ tubs whipped topping@
2 - 1.25OZ bottles of yellow decorator sprinkles
1 - 10 OZ jar Marachino Cherries@
1- bottle red food coloring

#1 Press cookie dough evenly onto the pizza pan. Pierce the dough around the edges, with a fork, to prevent it from shrinking, then bake according to package directions. Let cool completely

#2 Thaw whipped topping and add a few drops of red food coloring, blend well. The idea here, the whipped topping is red pizza sauce.

NOTE: Many kids are allergic to food coloring dyes. Check first before you add food coloring.

#3 Sprinkle decorator sprinkles onto the whipped topping. You can use whatever color you like, this is the cheese.

#4 Drain Marachino Cherries throughly, then arrange them on top of the pizza. These are the pepperoni pieces.

Since this is such a rich treat you'll want to cut small pizza slices. This will help you serve as many children as possible.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Reading Aloud, Compare and Contrast

Teachers know that reading aloud daily is a major factor in determining whether children will become lifelong readers. Entends today's reading aloud time with a compare and contrast lesson.


Two books that are fun to read then compare and contrast text elements are: The Three Little Pigs by: Patricia Seifert and The Tree Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig By: Eugene Trivizas

Here's how: Read the traditional version of The Little Pigs by Seifert. Have your students identify the main characters, their problems and how they solve them. Next, read the newfangled version by Trivizas and identify the same story elements.

Disscuss with your students how these stories are similar and how they are different. List similarities and differences on the board. If time allows you can have your students brainstorm a new version of this story.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Teaching Word Families

A Balance of Synthetic and Analytic Phonics Instruction


In the nineteen eighties there was a strong movement toward adopting whole language approaches to teaching reading. That is, analytic-phonics or whole word approaches. Today the pendulum has shifted back to what many experts refer to as the traditional approach or synthetic-phonics approach. More and more school districts are adopting curriculums that explicitly teach the alphabet, letter-sound associations and sounding out of words i.e. synthesizing/blending a letter's sounds into whole words.

Teaching word families strikes a balance between whole to part and part to whole phonics instruction. As children encounter common root words, prefixes, and suffixes again and again they begin to recognize these alphabet combinations instantly and no longer need to sound out each letter.

Most word families are usually rhymes and only require a beginning consonant sound, or consonant blend. For instance as in "ill", add p and you have pill, or add sk and you have skill. Really, word family endings are phonograms.

To get started teaching word families take a large piece of poster board. Create a chart by listing the following word endings down the left side of the poster board:
ab, ace, ack, ad, ade, ag, ail, ain, ake, ale, all, am, ame, an, ane, ang

Beginning with "ab" have students think of all the words they know that end in ab, For example: cab flab, tab, jab, .... Next, list their new words next to the word ending. Repeat this exercise for each word family.

Next Thursday I'll give you a new set of word families.

Reference: Reading Instruction that Works - Michael Pressley

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Math Time

Elementary Teacher's - Here's a challenging word problem for your students
Doughnut Sale


Mr. Cook owns a bakery. One morning he put out several trays of doughnuts.

In came Mrs. Sweet, she was his first customer. She thought the doughnuts looked yummy, so she bought half of them.

Next, in came Mr. Salt. He looked at the doughnuts that were left, and decided to buy half of them.

Next, Miss Cream stopped by the bakery. She bought half of the doughnuts she saw.

Finally, Mrs. Baker ran into the bakery. She only bought six doughnuts. She wanted to buy more, but that's all that was left.

How many doughnuts did Mrs. Sweet buy?

How many doughnuts did Mr. Salt buy?

How many doughnuts did Miss Cream buy?

How many doughnuts were on the trays Mrs. Cook put out for sale?


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Building Vocabulary - Word Banks

Help your students retain the vocabulary and spelling words you've taught them.


Each time your students have new vocabulary or spelling words have them write their words on index cards. On the other side (of the index cards) write the definition.

Have students store their cards in an empty shoebox, they call their "Word Bank". Throughout the year have your students break up into teams and review the definitions and spellings.

By the end of year your students will have mastered their words.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Links of Interest


Hey, fellow teachers and educators.

One of the fun things about a blog is you don't have to write tons of new material every day. You can simply provide links to articles you know your readers might find interesting. With that in mind, here are today's links of interest:

If you write for children, or just love to know more about the life of authors, you won't want to miss this recent interview with dynamic author & speaker Cynthia Leitich Smith - THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS: AN INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR & SPREAK CYNTHIA LEITICH SMITH.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fool's!

History Teachers

Do you remember which famous American was born on this Day in 1895?


April fools! It was Hugh Fraser - my grandfather.

The First April Fool's Day

In 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year fell on January first. There were some people, however, who hadn't heard or didn't believe the change in the date, so they continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April first.

In sixteenth-century France, the start of the new year was observed on April first. It was celebrated in much the same way as it is today with parties and dancing into the late hours of the night. Others played tricks on them and called them "April fools." They sent them on a "fool's errand" or tried to make them believe that something false was true.

In France today, April first is called "Poisson d'Avril." French children fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends' backs. When the "young fool" discovers this trick, the prankster yells "Poisson d’Avril!" (April Fish!)

Americans play small tricks on friends and strangers alike on the first of April. One common trick on April Fool's Day, or All Fool's Day, is pointing down to a friend's shoe and saying, "Your shoelace is untied." Teachers in the nineteenth century used to say to pupils, "Look! A flock of geese!" and point up. School children might tell a classmate that school has been canceled. Whatever the trick, if the innocent victim falls for the joke the prankster yells, "April Fool! "